Women’s Mysteries (oil, 1971)
This was my first attempt at using vibrant colours. I had for years been using mainly earth colours or even just black and white as I was learning my craft. Although both my parents were artists, I am mainly self taught and was therefore able to think my own thoughts and develop my medium as I saw fit, to express what until then had been inexpressible such as a woman-identified view of the sacred.
This painting is inspired by Egyptian imagery, of Isis or Hathor as the tree of life, the Sycamore or fig tree. Women were the cultivators of fruitbearing trees and brought fertility to nature. They were the early scientists and plant technologists and always worked with Nature the Mother and not against Her. Earth is our Mother …….
Mysteries of life and death as the child is born of the Mother tree while the dead are buried in the foetal position in great urns (pithoi) as on Crete, in Earth Mother’s dark and nourishing womb awaiting rebirth. Like the vegetation and grain, they are reborn with the spring after the long wintertime. The Earth eats us but She also grows us and that is the Mystery. The Greeks celebrated this at Eleusis in secret, ecstatic initiations to Demeter, the Corn Mother and Her daughter, Persephone/Kore who re-emerges from the Underworld with the turning of the year.
It was around the time when I did this painting in the early ’70s that I felt strongly the presence of the ancient women in my waking dreams.